After serving for twenty years as the Bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Don became the Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations in 2007. He served congregations in Monessen, Pittsburgh, and Latrobe in Pennsylvania and as the Area Lutheran Coordinator in West Virginia. In 1983, he received an honorary doctorate from Thiel College for his work in Appalachia and advocacy and long term planning for small membership congregations. He was elected as Bishop Emeritus at the 2007 synodical assembly of the SW PA Synod.
Serving as the co-president of the Lutheran World Federation-Orthodox Church dialogue has provided a rich experience in sharing, learning and mutual appreciation of the two traditions. It also has provided an opportunity to travel throughout the world, as has his current position in Ecumenical Relations. Dialogues and coordinating committee meetings with Christian churches continue to be priority commitments.
A grateful graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Don was also pleased to serve as the chair of the Board of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and chair of the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries prior to his present appointment.
Outside of the office, Don enjoys spending time with his wife, Sandy. They look forward to holidays in Pittsburgh and time at a South Carolina beach in the summertime with their daughters, Kim and Elizabeth. Important to their lives is membership and worship at St. Luke’s, Park Ridge. Don is an avid sports fan: West Virginia Mountaineers (although he has been known to root for Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh … when they are not playing WVU) and of course the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and last but not least (and mostly last) the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kathryn M. Lohre
Director for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations
In late 2011, Kathryn joined the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations team as director. Prior to that, she was the assistant director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, Dr. Diana Eck’s premier research project on religious diversity in the United States.
Kathryn is currently serving a two-year term as president of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; she is the youngest woman, and the first Lutheran to serve in this role. For several years, she has represented the ELCA as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. In addition to serving on various ELCA commissions, committees, and roundtables over the years, Kathryn had the joy of completing college internships with the Office of the Secretary and the Commission for Women. She is grateful for these and other opportunities to be mentored and formed by this church.
Kathryn received her BA in psychology, religion, and women’s studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1999. She earned her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2003. In May 2011, the Graduate Theological Foundation, Mishawaka, Ind., conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity to Kathryn, "in recognition of her election as president-elect of the National Council of Churches and also in recognition of her contributions to women's interfaith issues and pluralism."
Kathryn’s deepest joy comes from spending time with her son John and husband Tim, who is an ELCA pastor. Together they also enjoy visiting extended family in Minnesota and Washington.
Eileen M. Heffner
Assistant Director for Administration
Eileen has been with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1992. She provides administrative services for the Executive and this Section of the Office of the Presiding Bishop. In addition to coordinating meetings, conferences, assemblies, budget preparation and management, liaison with all units/departments within the ELCA, Eileen assists the Presiding Bishop in providing hospitality to ecumenical guests from around the world.
To unwind from her administrative duties, Eileen loves being in the fresh air on Chicago’s lakefront or enjoying nature at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She is a true Chicago fan, rooting for the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Bears.
Eileen keeps in close touch with her daughter in New York, as well as friends and family in the Chicago area and around the country. A lover of all things cute and cuddly, she is happy to baby-sit or dog-sit for (almost) anyone who asks.
Eileen has always been an active community volunteer, starting in high school as a tutor at Marrilac House, and as an adult, a Teen Club Moderator at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Chicago. Eileen has also worked with Habitat for Humanity, the ELCA AIDS At-Home Care Team, her local P.T.A., and Chicago Night Ministry.